Challenges for Ellon and Scotland

THE recent cold snap means that Ellon has not seen competitive action since they played Orkney in Kirkwall on December 1, which is not the kind of preparation interim head coach Michael Cox would wish for a big game for the club this Saturday.

“As the situation stands we may not even get a game this week, which would leave us with back log of fixtures. I just hope that the weather relents to enable us to get our Scottish National Shield game against Strathmore. It’s a huge match for us, especially as it a semi-final tie,” said Cox.

Should Ellon win they would find themselves in the final of the competition, facing either St Andrews University or deadly local rivals Aberdeenshire who are currently 19 points clear of the chasing pack in Caledonian League 1.

Another postponement would muddy the waters further, as on the following Saturday Scotland gets its Six Nations campaign under way with a trip to Twickenham where they will meet England in the first round of fixtures of the tournament.

Traditionally Ellon has always attended the English match, and it is likely February 2 will be no different, particularly as the club has already arranged not to play a league or shield game on that day.

“Should we not play this week, it is almost certain we shall not be in action until the middle of February. Another bad spell then would create a fixture nightmare,” said Cox who has tried to keep his young squad primed during the recent spell of inactivity.

“We can continue to train, but nothing beats getting a game,” he added.

The Ellon party bound for London over the weekend of February 2 will also be a little apprehensive for the national side who endured a torrid test run in the autumn, losing all three games, including an appalling defeat at Pittodrie at the hands of Samoa.

Supporters looking for relief in the Heineken Cup will have noted that Glasgow won only one of six games in the pool stages, worse still Edinburgh failed to break its duck in a run of six games.

In total the two clubs only managed 106 points, while conceding 283, not exactly the kind of form interim coach Scott Johnson will take heart from on the eve of his first Six Nations campaign.

The form of the two pro sides is slightly more encouraging for new boy Johnson. Glasgow in particular are going well, targeting a top four finish in order to reach the play offs.

Edinburgh’s form is much less impressive, leaving the Scotland coach with huge selection headaches.

“My job at Ellon is tough enough, but Scott Johnson has his hands full, but once you write off Scotland off they are just as likely to turn the form book upside down,” said Cox.

Next week’s preview of the world’s top international tournament will include the views of some of the area’s top coaches, including Alex Duncan the head coach at Aberdeen Grammar and fellow Caley coach Ian Rankin from Dundee.